Writer Andy Diggle dedicated his snappy DC comic book The Losers to '80s screenwriting superstar Shane Black, creator of the Lethal Weapon series. But in adapting The Losers for film, director Sylvain White and screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Peter Berg strain to achieve the pleasurable mix of cheap laughs and expensive action that Lethal Weapon pulled off effortlessly with the help of its stellar cast. (In a remarkable example of an actor finding his ideal role, Gary Busey played LW's haywire, half-cocked villain.) What they've produced instead is a busy, unsatisfying comic thriller, poorly acted by a grab bag of new faces and franchise-movie refugees and set to a hard-rock soundtrack. The Losers opens with its eponymous team of Special Forces ops staking out a drug lord's South American compound, preparing for attack. The inconveniently timed arrival of a busload of children provides both an opportunity for our heroes to show their nobility and a herd of adorable sacrificial lambs to set the movie's plot shuddering ahead. One smoldering teddy bear later, the Losers are presumed dead—and loaded for revenge on the shadowy figure who tried to take them out. Who is that shadowy figure? Why, it's Max, played by Jason Patric, about whom it must be said: He's no Gary Busey. While that is a great comfort, I'm sure, to Patric's neighbors, it's little help to the movie, which is filled with stock characters, including Zoe Saldana's Aisha, a sexpot in red leather pants.
Saldana takes off her blue Avatar paint.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., April 23. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes.